I have been thinking about doing a blogpost about this for a little while now and so I thought what with Yule being a mere snowball’s throw away, I’d go ahead and do it.
Writers are really fun people to buy for. I have several writerly friends and enjoy buying things for them. Personal things that I know I would like to get or that I already own that I find invaluable.
Here is a list of items that would sit well with a writer in your life:
1. Scivener – is a fantastic piece of software. Initially brought out to be used on iMacs, they are now running software for PC’s too. Do have a look at their website and the testimonials. I’ve now written 3 books in Scrivener and have loved the freedom it gives me to store files, create, edit and play around with structure and scenes. The templates are very useful and range from Novel / Poems / Recipes / Scriptwriting / Comics templates etc. The person who convinced me through his blog and writings to give Scrivener a try is David Hewson, author of the superb Nic Costa crime novels. David has also written a very handy guide to Scrivener for Kindle – again, utterly invaluable. But then, I also do love David’s blog as he is quite frank about his writing process and I find that as interesting as his comments on Scriviner and other writing tools he ruminates on.
2. Earphones – noiseblocking earphones. Some writers like writing to music, others like pure silence or the sound of white noise. I adore my Sennheiser earphones that block noise when I sit in coffee shops and write. Or just for general commute. Honestly wroth every single penny. I bought my pair around 3 years ago now and they are in my bag every day for commuting and they have lasted a long time.
3. A coffee / tea mug: unless the writer in your life does not take her coffee / tea intravenously, a mug is a big must. I love these from the Literary Gift Company. An online shop that specialises in literary and writerly gifts. I adore them and last year bought swathes of items from them for the writers in my life.
4. Story Cubes – these dice were given to me two years ago by Kaz Mahoney and I love them. You maybe get stuck in a scene, thinking what should happen next, roll the dice. Let them decide! Also available from the Literary Gift Company.
5. Books – you may grumble about the amount of books your writer has in his or her life, but books are our life-blood. Without books to read, to think about, to inspire, to show us how to do it or how not to do it, as the case may be, the writer in your life will be very poorly indeed. Ask for their wishlist and choose a few from there to buy them as part of their presents.
6. How To books. Tied in with the above, there are some how-to books that no writer can do without. I think most authors I’ve ever interviewed on MFB quote extensively from Stephen King’s On Writing. It is genuinely a worthwile buy. To be honest, it’s a book a non-writer can pick up and enjoy. Another book I’m currently re-reading at the moment is Terry Brooks’ Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writer’s Life. Also, a hugely personal book, aimed at other writers and those who live with writers. Terry Brooks is well known for writing the Shanara fantasy novels. There are other more practical books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself into Print that is an invaluable tool to aspiring / starting-out writers. Also books from the Writers Digest series: Plot and Structure / Description and Setting / Characters, Emotions and Viewpoint etc. Pop onto Amazon and look at them, and follow the “recommended / those who bought this also bought xyz” for a range of great titles for the writer in your life.
7. If the writer in your life is female, consider a subscription to Mslexia magazine (and also maybe a Mslexia writer’s diary) – an amazing magazine packed full of writing tips, interviews and articles about writing, the industry, genre, poetry – superb. The magazine is a favourite of mine and has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and is only going stronger. They have also gone digital, which is great. Another favourite magazine is Writer’s Digest – a US publication, the magazine is hugely comprehensive and seems more … just more, compared to some of the UK publications that you’ll find at Smiths that caters for writers. They are also digital, which is great.
8. Consider buying the writer in your life a writing retreat. Or create one – time away from the madness of everyday life, book a hotel for a weekend somewhere nice by the sea or countryside and take the kids off or whisk yourself away to go and do some stuff, leaving the writer to his/her own devices to sit and write and plot and plan.
9. A bag of some sort to carry notebooks and laptop in. This is a very personal thing, I think, and it is best to get advice from the writer in your life about this. My Kath Kidston bag I recently bought is fantastic – the pockets on the front are perfect for notebooks and pens and the inside of the bag is big enough for my laptop and a variety of books and sundry items like my phone, small make-up bag etc.
10. But I think the most important gift anyone can give a writer is two-fold: to appreciate that writing is hard work and to give them the space and time to do it in and also to listen to the writer in your life and be supportive. We may be tough on the outside, but on the inside we are packed full of insecurities and being able to talk to someone who understands about our writing goes a long way to assuage those fears.